Saskatchewan Roughdriders’ head coach Craig Dickenson believes Charleston Hughes came back to Regina ‘with a chip on his shoulder’

Photo courtesy: Hannah Souster

Charleston Hughes had a season to forget as a member of the Toronto Argonauts in 2021 but Saskatchewan Roughriders’ head coach Craig Dickenson sees the future Canadian Football Hall of Famer using that to fuel his fire after returning to the prairies.

“He came in with a chip on his shoulder. He wants to prove to people he’s still got it,” Dickenson said after one of the team’s training camp sessions.

Hughes struggled mightily with the Argos last season, playing in just nine of the team’s 14 games and registering two sacks, the lowest single-season output of his 13-year career.

He was released by the Argos last December and remained a free agent until the Riders picked him up earlier this month.

Hughes has come back to Regina with something to prove but wanting to stick it to doubters can only take you so far, according to his head coach.

“It’s one thing to have a chip on your shoulder and not be in good shape,” Dickenson said. “Charleston worked his tail off all offseason to get in shape, to train.”

Prior to his lone season in Double Blue, Hughes was a human wrecking ball over 12 seasons in Calgary and Saskatchewan. The Saginaw, Michigan native won two Grey Cups with the Stampeders, was an eight-time West Division and six-time CFL all-star, and was the West Division nominee for Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2013.

Hughes currently sits seventh on the all-time sack list with 132 — 25 behind all-time leader Grover Covington — and is a lock for induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame once his career is over.

Despite his previous accolades and accomplishments, Hughes was a non-factor with the Argos last year, something Hughes himself has admitted.

“The way everything started working out — the job that they were asking me to do — was kind of not what I signed up for,” Hughes told The Sportscage on CKRM after re-signing with the Riders on May 10.

Hughes is now back in a place where he led the league in sacks in back-to-back seasons and with a coach that knows how to get the most out of him.

For his part, Dickenson is excited that Hughes is back in green and white and feels he has been one of the standouts so far during Riders’ training camp.

“He looks fantastic,’ said Dickenson. “One of the stars of camp so far.”

A motivated Charleston Hughes is a dangerous Charleston Hughes, but there are legitimate questions as to whether last year was an aberration or if the four-time sack champ’s best days are behind him.

Craig Dickenson seems optimistic that the former is truer than the latter but we won’t know for sure until Hughes takes the field. He’ll either prove his naysayers wrong or shows that last year was indeed the beginning of the end of a great career.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.